Mindful Fishing

by: Brendon Allen

The morning sky comes alive with hues of blue and orange as the sun slowly rises above the horizon. The muddled smell of sea birds, seagrass, and salt wafts through the air as you cautiously approach the first sign of turbulent water. Bait fish spring into the air and crash back down into crystalline waters as you prepare your first cast. With a pounding heart and focused gaze, you cast your line and watch it as it gently unfolds in front of your target. You strip once, twice, and a third time before it becomes obvious that the opportunity has been missed. You turn to your buddy with a look of exasperation as he mutters the cliché, “there’s a reason it’s called fishing, not catching.”

It’s a saying we’ve all heard and been slightly annoyed by, especially after losing a fish or a slow day on the water. That being said, it is a phrase worth meditating on. We all love to feed our ego by telling grand stories about how we skillfully landed that trophy fish, but does this come at an expense? More than anything, the aforementioned phrase is a reminder to enjoy the means just as much as the ends, even though that may be harder to brag to your friends about. Moreover, it’s a reminder to be in the moment, to experience the beauty of our surroundings and not lose sight of what’s right in front of us in exchange for a future that isn’t promised.

This isn’t to say that the joys of catching a prize game fish should be ignored or triumphant stories shouldn’t be told. That’s part of the fun of fishing, but only part. Being fully present as you cast brings joy to the act of casting and will most likely help you improve your cast. Being in the moment so that you can take in the smell of a tidal flat or the feel of a southerly breeze will not only connect you to your surroundings, but it might also tune you into how the fish are acting and feeding in that particular area. So, the next time you find yourself focused on the catching, remember that being in the moment during the fishing is where the real magic happens, and who knows? Maybe you’ll get the best of both worlds.